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Legislature-Expedia Suit on Hold Pending Ruling

January 26, 2012 - 6:00pm

Florida lawmakers and online-travel company Expedia are battling in an appeals court about whether Rep. Rick Kriseman and a legislative aide can be forced to give depositions in a contentious tax lawsuit.

House attorneys last month asked the 1st District Court of Appeal to block a circuit judge's ruling that Expedia could subpoena Kriseman, D-St. Petersburg, and aide David Flintom and ask limited questions.

House Health Committee Approves Abortion Restrictions

January 23, 2012 - 6:00pm

Florida's perennial abortion battle re-emerged Tuesday as a House panel approved bills that would block abortions after 20 weeks, require 24-hour waiting periods and target abortions that might be motivated by the race or gender of the fetus.

The Republican-dominated House Health and Human Services Access Subcommittee approved three bills in party-line votes, after testimony and debate that reflected the country's deep divide on the issue.

Questions Raised About Progress Energy Florida Settlement

January 22, 2012 - 6:00pm

An advocacy group raised questions Monday about a wide-ranging settlement agreement that includes Progress Energy Florida continuing to charge customers for a proposed Levy County nuclear-power project.

The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, which said last month that it would challenge such nuclear charges in the Florida Supreme Court, declined to enter the settlement agreement announced Friday by Progress and consumer and business representatives.

Local Term Limits Measure Advances in House

January 17, 2012 - 6:00pm

Two decades after voters said "eight is enough" for state lawmakers, a House proposal could lead to term limits for sheriffs, tax collectors and other county officials in many parts of the state.

The House Community & Military Affairs Subcommittee on Wednesday narrowly approved a proposed constitutional amendment (HJR 785) that would make clear voters in 20 counties can slap term limits on local officials.

The 8-7 subcommittee vote reflected deep divisions that remain about term limits, which were approved for the Legislature in 1992.

Weatherford Bringing in the Bucks for Fall Campaign

January 12, 2012 - 6:00pm

Speaker-in-waiting Will Weatherford continues to overshadow all other House candidates in raising cash for this fall's elections, collecting $130,400 during the final three months of 2011, new reports show.

In all, the Wesley Chapel Republican, who is set to become House speaker in November, has amassed a total of $397,150 to help fuel his re-election bid in District 61. Rep. Dana Young, R-Tampa, has the next-highest amount, with $248,324.

Health Care Under the Knife as Session Gets Under Way

January 5, 2012 - 6:00pm

By now, it's a familiar scene: As Florida lawmakers deal with a budget shortfall, hospitals, nursing homes and other health providers scramble to fend off -- or brace for -- funding cuts.

Already, Gov. Rick Scott has proposed deep cuts in Medicaid payments to hospitals, as he tries to free up money to boost spending on public schools. And while it's too early to know whether lawmakers will go along with Scott's proposal, they are almost certain to make cuts in health and human services programs.

Panel Wrestles with Federal Rules for Health Funding

January 4, 2012 - 6:00pm

When federal officials extended Florida's controversial Medicaid pilot program last month, they required the state to funnel an additional $50 million to improving care for low-income patients.

That much was clear.

But a state panel grappled for hours Thursday with how to carry out the requirements -- an issue that, ultimately, will land in the laps of Florida lawmakers.

Advocacy Group to Appeal 'Scam' Energy Rate Increases

December 29, 2011 - 6:00pm

An advocacy group will ask the state Supreme Court to reject a regulatory decision that would allow Florida Power & Light and Progress Energy Florida to collect about $282 million from customers next year for nuclear-power projects.

The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy has notified the state Public Service Commission that it's taking the unusual step of appealing an order that allows the utilities to collect money for work on future or existing nuclear plants.

EPA Puts Out New Air Pollution Standards

December 20, 2011 - 6:00pm

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday released controversial new air-pollution standards that have been long sought by environmental and health advocates but could force expensive upgrades at some Florida power plants.

The standards will require hundreds of coal-fired power plants across the country to make improvements to curb emissions of mercury and other pollutants such as arsenic and nickel.

Weekly Roundup: Medicaid Reform, FAMU, Jobs

December 15, 2011 - 6:00pm

The first step is done. Now, Florida officials will try to convince the federal government that they should be able to remake the Medicaid system statewide.

The Obama administration this week gave long-awaited approval to Florida's extension of a pilot program that requires most Medicaid beneficiaries in five counties to enroll in managed-care plans. The decision was a victory for Republican leaders who ultimately want to put beneficiaries statewide into HMOs and other types of managed care.

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